Changing Its Name Hasn’t Made M.E. Go Away – Let Alone Cured It | Eddie Lewisohn


Rarely in the history of medicine has a new condition been invented specifically to avoid engaging with one which already exists.

But that is what has happened to the neurological illness myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME (meaning: “pain plus inflammation of the brain and spinal cord”). In defiance of all logic, myalgic encephalomyelitis is not treated as a neurological condition by the NHS. Worse, it is not treated at all 

This is because it has been replaced by a bogus condition called chronic fatigue syndrome (or CFS). CFS is defined as unexplained fatigue for over six months – a suspiciously vague definition which encompasses practically any condition in the medical dictionary.

I use the word replaced advisedly. By giving pre-eminence to the term CFS, coined in the USA in the 1980s and adopted enthusiastically by British psychiatrists (notably Sir Simon Wessely), the NHS has handed over a physical, neurological condition to another discipline, psychiatry. In doing so they have had to change its definition and name.

Neither the Department of Health who took this decision nor the NHS psychiatrists who implement it claim that chronic fatigue syndrome actually is the neurological illness myalgic encephalomyelitis. On the contrary, their position is that myalgic encephalomyelitis doesn’t exist.  It is a false illness belief.

The idea that myalgic encephalomyelitis doesn’t actually exist but is really just a psychological problem is expressed by the double acronym CFS/ME which the Department of Health working party recommended using in 2002 until further notice.

But CFS is the only name that matters to the NHS who tell us that CFS is also known as ME (and this mantra is repeated ad nauseam by all sections of the press). Both terms, they inform us, are synonymous. But here’s the twist: according to the NHS they both mean CFS. Which deprives myalgic encephalomyelitis of its primary meaning – because the phrase chronic fatigue syndrome clearly does not mean pain plus inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

This is not merely a question of semantics: CFS is treated as a psychological condition with psychological therapies. There is absolutely no question of patients being sent to neurological myalgic encephalomyelitis specialists, because there aren’t any: the choice is a CFS Fatigue Clinic, or nothing.

And CFS has proved to be highly effective propaganda for the ME-doesn’t-exist lobby: every time it is used, every time we are told that ME is also known as CFS, the official NHS/psychiatric view that myalgic encephalomyelitis is merely a fatigue syndrome becomes more entrenched.

Anyone who has ME will confirm that 99% of the public are unaware what ME stands for or means. In the place of this ignorance is the belief that ME is something we all suffer from occasionally: fatigue. Result! At least for the psychiatric lobby and the NHS. But not for the people with a disabling neurological illness that is not only untreated, but is now regarded with either suspicion – or derision.

Meanwhile the NHS continues to throw millions into the bank balances of psychiatrists in support of an unproven fatigue syndrome theory they have imported from the birthplace of psychobabble: America.


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